May 25, 2007

Organic bees thriving, GM link to beepocalypse.

Filed under: bees, environment — girlyswot @ 4:36 pm

Here’s an interesting twist to the bee saga. Apparently organic bees are in a better state than their non-organic sisters. Organic farmers blame pesticides used in the hives to fumigate for mites, antibiotics and transporting bees for pollination services as major stresses to the colonies and another possible reason that bees are disappearing.

But it might also be the case that organic bees don’t come into contact with GM crops. German scientists think that the massive decline of bee populations in the US is the result of the extensive use of GM crops. Test have shown that GM crop weakened bees’ intestines so that they become more vulnerable to parasites.

In some collapsed colonies in the US, the bees were found to have multiple infections and they suspect that GM crops are doing something to their immune systems. The hives are also possibly toxic. Usually when a colony collapses, a nearby colony raids it for honey and pollen stores. Now there’s something in there that’s repelling them.


May 3, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 4:23 pm

More missing bees. This time it’s in Taiwan — 10 million bees according to Taiwanese news reports.

April 18, 2007

Lost bee epidemic

Filed under: environment, Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 1:20 pm

There’s another theory about why there’s a bee apocalypse that’s spread from the US to Europe and now Britain. Apparently radiation from mobile phones are interfering with bees ability to find their way back to their hives. They get lost and die alone.

Sounds like modern life.

odd book title prize

Filed under: quirky — girlyswot @ 1:04 pm

The Diagram Prize for the oddest book title of the year has been announced. This year it’s: The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification – Julian Montague

Here’s a list of past winners:

2005 – People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead: How They Attach Themselves to Unsuspecting Bystanders and What to Do About It – Gary Leon Hill
2004 – Bombproof Your Horse – Rick Pelicano and Lauren Tjaden
2003 – The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories – Alisa Surkis and Monica Nolan
2002 – Living with Crazy Buttocks – Kaz Cooke
2001 – Butterworths Corporate Manslaughter Service – Gerard Forlin
2000 – High Performance Stiffened Structures – IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers)
1999 – Weeds in a Changing World – British Crop Protection Council Symposium Proceedings No. 64
1998 – Developments in Dairy Cow Breeding: New Opportunities to Widen the Use of Straw
1997 – The Joy of Sex, the Pocket Edition – Mitchell Beazley
1996 – Greek Rural Postmen and their Cancellation Numbers – Edited by Derek Willan
1995 – Reusing Old Graves: A Report on Popular British Attitudes – Douglas Davies and Alastair Shaw
1994 – Highlights in the History of Concrete – Slough: Cement and Concrete Association
1993 – American Bottom Archaeology – Charles J. Bareis and James W. Porter
1992 – How to Avoid Huge Ships – John W. Trimmer
1991 – No Award
1990 – Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual – Pat Califia
1989 – How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art – Kathleen Meyer
1988 – Versailles: The View From Sweden – Elaine Dee and Guy Walton
1987 – No Award
1986 – Oral Sadism and the Vegetarian Personality – Glenn C. Ellenbogen
1985 – Natural Bust Enlargement with Total Power: How to Increase the other 90% of Your Mind to Increase the Size of Your Breasts
1984 – The Book of Marmalade: Its Antecedents, Its History, and Its Role in the World Today – Anne Wilson
1983 – The Theory of Lengthwise Rolling – A. I. Tselikov, G. S. Nikitin and S. E. Rokotyan
1982 – Population and Other Problems: Family Planning, Housing 1,000 million, Labour Employment
1981 – Last Chance at Love – Terminal Romances
1980 – The Joy of Chickens – Dennis Nolan
1979 – The Madam as Entrepreneur: Career Management in House Prostitution – Barbara Sherman Heyl

March 25, 2007

mosquito saliva

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 8:42 pm

I’ve just read an article in the New Scientist that says repeated exposure to mosquito saliva can boost a person’s immunity to diseases like malaria and could be used in the development of a vaccine. This is really exciting considering that millions of people die from malaria every year. But what surprised me most was that mosquitoes actually have saliva.

After a quick google I found that mosquitoes use saliva when they’re biting their victim. They slash the skin and insert the proboscis in search of a tiny blood vessel. The proboscis contains two tubes — one that withdraws blood, and one that injects saliva. The saliva contains anti-coagulants to keep the blood flowing and pain-killers so that the victim doesn’t feel the bite.

So now what I want to see is a vampire story where the vampires have a mosquito-like proboscis. But along with the anti-coagulants and pain-killers what else would a vampire inject?

March 24, 2007

fill in the blank

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 4:35 pm

drinking + ____________ = bad idea

March 14, 2007

More dead birds

Filed under: environment — girlyswot @ 3:20 pm

They think they’ve found what’s killing the birds near Esperence — lead poisoning. They’re also worried that town’s water supplies have been contaminated with high levels of lead and nickle sulfide from the dust blowing back into town from loading lead carbonate at the local port. It’s ended up in rainwater tanks and the locals are worried. The resources boom ain’t all big houses and flashy cars.

March 4, 2007

I’m in bizarro land

Filed under: environment, life, politics — girlyswot @ 9:59 pm

OK. So I’m sitting at home on a sunday night, medicating my long dark teatime of the soul with a glass of wine, watching TV and reading my rss feeds, when low and behold I feel like I’ve materialised in bizarro land.

First up, I’m watching Cool Aid on channel 10. It’s looking at Australians’ contribution to climate change and showing how ‘we can all do something’. There’s even green ads for green cars and green electricity. Fucksake, they’re interviewing Al Gore. Ooh — here’s a nice Gore soundbite, referring to solutions to climate change — we don’t need a silver bullet, we need silver buckshot.

Next, I’m reading the my Herald Sun feeds and I come across the number one story in National News and it’s Emissions a new Clean Up target and in the Breaking News Skinny models ban for Fashion Week.

Am I in Howard’s Australia? It’s freaking me out, but I’m just gonna close my eyes and believe. Mainstream Australia is coming on board and we’re going to change the world for the better. How ’bout that.

(I’m an optimist at heart)

February 15, 2007

First it was birds, now it’s bees

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 7:53 am

Something’s happening to bees in the US. In the last couple of weeks, beekeepers in 22 states have lost up to 80% of their colonies. They don’t know why. They just disappear over a couple of days until the a beekeeper opens the hive to find the queen and a few bees left. It’s been described as ‘startling’.

To give you an idea of the scale of the loss, one beekeeper alone lost 2,000 hives each of which contains 50,000 bees. That’s 100 million bees. Multiply that across the states…

In the US it’s also going to affect food crops. Commercially, the bees pollinate almonds, apples and blueberries.

And guess what? They’re also reporting significant bee losses in some European countries as well. In Italy, one beekeeper, Giuseppe Miranti believes that it’s climate change to blame for dramatic bee losses in his region. Because of changing temperatures, flowers are blooming at different times and bees are having trouble adapting. Bee parasites also live longer and are more persistent in warmer weather.

Tipping point anyone?

January 25, 2007

BOO! Health clinic keeps baby until parents pay

Filed under: Uncategorized — girlyswot @ 5:12 pm

As if it’s not crap enough living in poverty, now they’re withholding children if parents can’t pay the clinic fee. That’s what’s happened this week in Indonesia where a clinic is keeping a newborn until the parents can pay the fee for the baby’s delivery. The family have already paid a third of the fee, after borrowing from friends, but don’t know where they’ll get the rest. Apparently the parents agreed to the fee, but frankly if faced with the choice of giving birth on my own or giving birth in a clinic with skilled professionals taking care of me, I’d probably agree to that deal too. Childbirth can be a dangerous business.

To get a bit of context, 72% of births in Indonesia are attended by a skilled health professional which is OK stats for a developing country, but what’s more telling is that out of the poorest 20% of people in the country, only 21% of women are helped out by a skilled health worker. Those odds suck. When combined with corruption of health services, it sucks even more. So much so, that they’ll keep your kids and there won’t be anything you can do about it.

That’s the way corruption works in many countries. It’s not just about fatcat leaders siphoning off billions for their luxury lifestyles, although Indonesia does that the dubious glory of having the most corrupt leader of all time in Suharto, who ruled from 67-98. It’s the day-to-day graft like the story above that is what perceived corruption is all about. Indonesia 130 out of 163 in the corruption perception index.

So the maths is simple. poverty + corruption = crap life.

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